Bakersfield residents deserve a round of applause, at least in terms of the city’s water usage.
So far in 2019, city residents have saved 3,348 acre feet of water compared to 2013 quantities. Cumulatively, the city has cut water usage by nearly 12 percent since 2013, an average year before drought struck the state.
“As a city, we’re doing really good,” Water Resources Manager Art Chianello said. “It seems like, definitely, the residents of Bakersfield are water aware, and they’ve been using water wisely.”
The city touts the latest water news as a humble, but important victory. In a relatively wet year, the water savings will help recharge the groundwater beneath the Kern River, which had been depleted after a roughly three year drought emergency declared by Gov. Jerry Brown.
“Through the drought, I think people got to using less water, whether or not they adjusted their landscaping or put in different sprinklers,” said Bakersfield City Councilmember Bob Smith, who chairs the Water Resources Board. “Habits were formed during the drought that have continued, because we have consistently been lower than what we were since then.”
Even as the city’s water district population has grown from 135,960 in 2013 to 153,773 in 2019, water usage has dropped.
The city says that water reduction equates to approximately 15.31 percent per person per day.
The water savings have occurred steadily since the end of the drought.
All those savings have come mostly from more efficient technology and changes in behavior that were first implemented during the drought.
Chianello said the city still gets daily water waste reports through the city’s app, Bakersfield Mobile, of citizens pointing out their neighbors’ poor water behavior.
The city either talks to the person in question or leaves a brochure on the person’s doorknob to provide education on better water practices.
“It’s meant to be educational and not punitive,” Chianello said.
The drought emergency officially ended in April 2017, and since that time the city has not officially restricted water usage. The city does not expect to put in place any specific water policies in the near future, but will need residents to continue using water efficiently in order to meet groundwater sustainability goals set by the state.
“We’re not quite there yet, but we have plans to get there,” Smith said of the city’s sustainability goals.
Given a few more wet years, the city could well be on its way to meeting those goals.